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February 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on January 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

Selection of articles regarding the December 2015 United Nations Climate Change ConferenceCOP21

Articles:

Paul Wells, “How Will Trudeau’s pan-Canadian plans survive the new federalism?” Macleans, January 4, 2016.

eit Climate-KIC, “Sparking an innovation step change: Creating a roadmap for the diffusion of radical innovation in European business.” December 2015.

Nordhaus, William. “Climate Clubs to Overcome Free-Riding.” Issues in Science and Technology 31, no. 4 (Summer 2015).

Isabel Galiana and Christopher Green, Copenhagen Consensus Centre, “An Analysis of a Technology-led Climate Policy as a Response to Climate Change.”

The Economist, “Clear thinking needed: Global warming cannot be dealt with using today’s tools and mindsets. So create some new ones.” November 28, 2015.

Optional: 

Statement by the Vatican.

International Atomic Energy Agency. Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2015.

Martin Boucher et al. Policy Options magazine. Measuring action on climate change. January 19, 2016.

March 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on January 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

The Silo Effect: The Peril and Promise of Breaking Down Barriers – by Gillian Tett

silo effect

From award-winning columnist and journalist Gillian Tett comes a brilliant examination of how our tendency to create functional departments—silos—hinders our work…and how some people and organizations can break those silos down to unleash innovation.

One of the characteristics of industrial age enterprises is that they are organized around functional departments. This organizational structure results in both limited information and restricted thinking. The Silo Effect asks these basic questions: why do humans working in modern institutions collectively act in ways that sometimes seem stupid? Why do normally clever people fail to see risks and opportunities that later seem blindingly obvious? Why, as psychologist Daniel Kahneman put it, are we sometimes so “blind to our own blindness”?

Gillian Tett, journalist and senior editor for the Financial Times, answers these questions by plumbing her background as an anthropologist and her experience reporting on the financial crisis in 2008. In The Silo Effect, she shares eight different tales of the silo syndrome, spanning Bloomberg’s City Hall in New York, the Bank of England in London, Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio, UBS bank in Switzerland, Facebook in San Francisco, Sony in Tokyo, the BlueMountain hedge fund, and the Chicago police. Some of these narratives illustrate how foolishly people can behave when they are mastered by silos. Others, however, show how institutions and individuals can master their silos instead. These are stories of failure andsuccess.

From ideas about how to organize office spaces and lead teams of people with disparate expertise, Tett lays bare the silo effect and explains how people organize themselves, interact with each other, and imagine the world can take hold of an organization and lead from institutional blindness to 20/20 vision.

April 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on January 6, 2016 at 10:20 am

What is Government Good At? A Canadian Answer – By Donald Savoie

what is government good at

Recent decades have shown the public’s support for government plummet alongside political leaders’ credibility. This downward spiral calls for an exploration of what has gone wrong. The questions, “What is government good at?” and “What is government not good at?” are critical ones – and their answers should be the basis for good public policy and public administration.

In What Is Government Good At?, Donald Savoie argues that politicians and public servants are good at generating and avoiding blame, playing to a segment of the population to win the next election, embracing and defending the status quo, adding management layers and staff, keeping ministers out of trouble, responding to demands from the prime minister and his office, and managing a complex, prime minister-centred organization. Conversely, they are not as good at defining the broader public interest, providing and recognizing evidence-based policy advice, managing human and financial resources with efficiency and frugality, innovating and reforming itself, being accountable to Parliament and to citizens, dealing with non-performers, paying sufficient attention to service delivery, and implementing and evaluating the impact of policies and programs.

With wide implications for representative democracy, What Is Government Good At? is a persuasive analysis of an approach to government that has opened the door to those with the resources to influence policy and decision-making while leaving average citizens on the outside looking in.

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